Around Anne Hathaway’s Cottage

NEAREST LOCATION

Stratford-upon-Avon

RECOMMENDED BY
DISTANCE

3 miles (4.8kms)

ASCENT
197ft (60m)
TIME
1hr 30min
GRADIENT
DIFFICULTY
Easy
STARTING POINT
SP184547

About the walk

This world-famous tourist shrine, in the village of Shottery, just outside Stratford, is where Anne Hathaway spent her childhood and William Shakespeare courted his bride to be before they married at nearby Temple Grafton in 1582. Anne was pregnant at the time and the couple’s first child was born six months later. Some literary historians and Shakespeare scholars have implied these circumstances dictated a ‘shotgun wedding’ though there is no evidence to support the theory. It is possible, however, there was pressure on Shakespeare to marry Anne quickly. An extensive thatched cottage – more a house – with a spacious garden, the oldest part of the building dates back to the 15th century and was originally known as Newlands Farm. In those days it boasted over 90 acres (36 hectares).

Long tradition for visitors

Despite the obvious reminders of modern-day commercialism, the site remains a perfect representation of chocolate-box England; a quaint ‘olde worlde’ dwelling in a pretty setting at the heart of the English shires. Its connection with the Bard, eight years Anne’s junior, brings tourists from far and wide and is a firm favourite on the Shakespeare trail. The cottage’s long tradition for visitors confirms that tourism is no new concept. Tennyson and Dickens were among many members of the literati who inspected the Hathaway family home. Mary Baker, who lived at the cottage for much of the 19th century, was an experienced guide.

On display

Inside the cottage are multiple chimneys intended to help circulate heat to every corner during the cold winter months, the largest chimney used for cooking. The timber framing is a familiar feature of Tudor style architecture. Following the death of Anne’s father, the cottage passed to her brother, Bartholomew, and then continued down the family line until the 1840s. Financial problems resulted in the cottage being sold, though the Hathaway family continued to reside there as tenants. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust eventually acquired it in 1892. The cottage made the news in 1969 when a serious fire threatened to destroy its precious fabric and ancient timbers. The Trust’s intention is to convey an impression of the cottage at the time it acquired it – the end of the 19th century. On display are a number of early photographs and many original items, including the Hathaway bed, made of oak. Also on view are old rope beds, a striking carved crib and a chair made of straw. Anne Hathaway died in 1623, at the age of 67 and was interred in a grave in the Church of Holy Trinity in Stratford-on-Avon. Shakespeare’s grave is adjacent.

Walk directions

From the car park make for the road and keep left, passing the entrance to Shottery Lodge. On the left is the entrance to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. Just beyond it on the right is a café. Continue ahead, passing the entrance to Hansell Farm. Keep to the pavement and at the junction with South Green Drive, turn left and immediately right into Hathaway Green Lane. Cut through a housing estate to the next junction and turn left. Pass a bus stop and follow the road as it curves right by some lock-up garages.

About 100yds (91m) before a road junction, just before a bus stop, turn left and follow the path signposted Drayton. Cross several fields, passing under power lines, and make for trees ahead. Aim for a hedge corner about 100yds (91m) before the trees and go through a galvanized kissing gate here. Cross the next field with trees and hedgerow on the immediate left. In the corner, go through another gate and keep left.

Skirt the field to follow an enclosed path between pastures, curving left at one point. The houses of Shottery can be seen way over to the left. Keep to the path as it becomes enclosed by hedging and bushes. Through the gaps the rooftops of Stratford-upon-Avon can be seen. The buildings of Hansell Farm can also be glimpsed along this stretch. Go through a galvanized gate, keeping to the right of woodland, and after about 70yds (64m), turn left at a waymark.

Follow the footpath down through the trees. Pass alongside wire fencing with houses visible on the right. The path bends left, then right through more trees. Avoid a path on the left and keep ahead, following the route through a tunnel of trees and between fields. Continue on the path to where the outskirts of Shottery edge into view. Pass extensive greenhouses on the right, cross a brook and on the left is a school. At the road turn left, walk along to the junction and keep left by the Bell pub. Follow the road down to the junction with Cottage Lane and Church Lane. Turn left into Cottage Lane and return to the car park where the walk began.

Additional information

Pavements and field paths

Undulating farmland

Off lead on enclosed paths

OS Explorer 205 Stratford-upon-Avon & Evesham

Fee-paying car park

At Anne Hathaway’s Cottage (when open)

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About the area

Discover Warwickshire

The sparkle of sunlight on a gentle river as it meanders through beautiful countryside; the reflections of sailing boats on a lake; relaxing with a pint in the garden of an old English pub in a picturesque village; brightly coloured narrow boats making their way through a flight of lock gates; the imposing silhouette of an historic castle. These are the scenes that make Warwickshire a delight. 

There may be few seriously high hills in this fertile plain, but it is an area full of attractive walking in rolling countryside, blessed with a fascinating history and wonderful places and buildings to visit. This is Shakespeare’s county, and the footprint of the famous Bard appears almost everywhere. He was born and brought up around the beautiful Warwickshire town of Stratford-upon-Avon, and many of his plays draw upon his own experiences in the area.

Warwickshire has a history that embraces the Civil War, castles and large country houses are scattered over the county. Warwick Castle is the home of the Earl of Warwick, Kenilworth Castle was a stronghold for lords and kings of England in the 11th and 12th centuries, and so the list goes on.